The Mentidero neighbourhood occupies a large part of Cádiz’s northern historic quarter. Mentidero enjoys close links with the neighbouring barrio, La Viña. The two districts are home to a population of around 11,000 engaged in a wide range of livelihoods, including naval shipbuilding (in Navantia), tourism and catering, as well as public administration and business.
This neighbourhood grew up in the mid eighteenth century, when economic expansion and population growth forced the city’s inhabitants onto land which had, hitherto, been occupied by small family farms. This period saw the urban development of the Plaza de Mentidero [Talking Shop Square], which eventually gave its name to the entire neighbourhood. How did the square get its name? Because, right from the start, this secluded space became a popular meeting place, where all kinds of jokes and false rumours (the ‘fake news’ of the day) were spread.
Nowadays, the square is still a pleasant place to meet, especially if you sit on the terraces around the fountain that is its dominant feature. It is also one of the settings for Carnival on the days when the ‘carrusel de coros’ [parade of choirs] passes through. Another Mentidero institution with close links to Carnival is the Gran Teatro Falla. This attractive edifice, in the neo-Mudéjar style, is the central hub of both the qualifying rounds and the final of the Carnival competition. This is where, each year, the winning troupes from each category are announced and saluted.
Not far from the Falla (whose square, incidentally, is one of the best places in the city to dine al fresco, or have a drink during the summer) lies Genovés park. This is the largest green space in the historic centre of Cádiz.
It was constructed in the mid nineteenth century, at the far end of Cádiz near the sea, using the former military terrain that lay next to the city walls. The project was sponsored by the mayor Gerónimo Genovés i Puig, hence the park’s name.
No less attractive, from the point of view of plants and scenery, is the Alameda Apodaca. These pretty gardens were designed in the 1920s by Juan Talavera Heredia in a typical Andalusian Regionalist style. This explains the use of coloured pottery and tiles, which decorate both the paths and the edges of the flower beds. As far as the plants are concerned, the highlights are a superb fig tree and an araucaria (monkey puzzle tree) which were planted in the early twentieth century, lending shade as you stroll through the gardens, which also enjoy glorious views of the bay of Cádiz.
At one end of the Alameda Apodaca stands the Candelaria Bastion, one of the fortifications that protected the entrance to the port of Cádiz in times gone by. It was built during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Today, no longer serving its original, military purpose, it has been converted into a centre holding exhibitions and all types of cultural events, including music festivals.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the Mentidero neighbourhood also houses several faculties of the University of Cádiz. This institution also has a number of centres located in the La Viña neighbourhood and in the historic centre.
The Mentidero neighbourhood houses the Faculty of Medicine, near the Falla Theatre. Although it now occupies a functional, 1970s building, the faculty has its origins in the Colegio de Médicos [College of Physicians], founded in the mid eighteenth century and one of Spain’s first academic institutions of this type.
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